Artistic License: And The Tide Was Way Out

A joint exhibition of acrylics and watercolours in the MUNICIPAL GALLERY, Dun Laoghaire looks at new art works by Paul Hallahan and Lee Welch …

“No symbols where non intended” by Paul Hallahan and Lee Welch. Inspired by the theme of Utopia, this unique collaboration features two paintings the artists have made together.

Paul, did you have any connection with Lee prior to this exhibition?

We have worked together in a few exhibitions over the years, but more so in group exhibitions. This two-person show was talked about for a while and when the opportunity came to do it we grabbed it. I have always been interested in the idea of a two-person exhibition as it works very much like a visual conversation that is open to the public, and asks of them to partake also.

Paul Hallahan.

How did you go about working on the joint artworks?

The question was really who would begin the works and who would finish them. It was decided that I would work on the space and Lee would bring in the narrative in the form of figures. It was very interesting working on pieces that would eventually not be fully yours.

Paul Hallahan.

What is your interpretation of the theme Utopia?

Utopia, or lack thereof, is what I had in my mind; we often assign ideas of “better worlds” to existing places or periods of history. I have always thought that Utopia is now, it has to be, it’s the only reality and so approaching this exhibition meant thinking of this intensely. My paintings are based on landscapes, content-wise and compositionally. Taking this as my starting point I decided to think about that looking out, not to the future, but at the present. The concept of future I think has been eroded in society over the past 30 years and maybe that is not a bad thing, maybe making now better is more important – not offsetting it to a task that someone or some society can sort in 30 years, 70 years or 150 years from now.

Lee Welch.

Lee, what is the significance of the exhibition title?

The title is taken from the last sentence of David Foster Wallace’s second novel Infinite Jest. I’m concerned that our interpretations can sometimes be limited by the structures that represent our ideas. But you never know when the magic will descend on you. I mean, you never know when the grooves will open up. And once the magic descends you don’t want to change even the smallest detail. You don’t know what concordance of factors and variables yields that calibrated can’t-miss feeling, and you don’t want to soil the magic by trying to figure it out …

Your previous artwork has dealt with connections and seeing things – how did your own interests connect with the exhibition theme?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. What interests me is how the mind works and how dream images can come together from things you’ve seen, read, and experienced both years ago and yesterday. And this notion is in some ways where we are now. Time is becoming compressed. So we’re looking but not seeing. This idea of how we look at images today. How we go through them so quickly. We’re not really seeing them. And what that means, to see, or even to look. And the differences between those two things. It’s about slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.

Lee Welch.

How and where do you work?

During the day I work in Kerlin Gallery as a photographer and archivist and I have a studio with Independent Studios in Temple Bar where I spend most of my evenings painting. I also use the studio as a space to exercise and perform tarot readings.

Need to Know: “And the tide was out” Paul Hallahan and Lee Welch is on at the Municipal Gallery, dlr Lexicon, Haigh Terrace, Moran Park, Dun Laoghaire from February 3 – March 31. www.dlrcoco.ie.

Penny McCormick

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